As the leaves begin to turn shades of red and orange (or fall straight off and green depending on where you live), backpacks are dusted off in preparation for a new load of textbooks, and we move into fall, we figure you could use some cause for celebration. How about our Labor Day/Back-To-School Sale? We've got great titles of all-ages, young-adult, and non-fiction titles at a whopping 40% Off from Saturday, August 30th through Monday, September 1st!
School can be anything you make of it, especially you don't give a damn. For the guy or girl that knows everything, try Unlovable 1and 2by Esther Pearl Watson. She may only break wind and not hearts, but Tammy Pierce is unstoppable. For some short stories from all walks of life, ugly and less ugly, grab Daniel Clowes' Caricature, often compared to to Nabokov for their complex naturalism and sense of humor.
Is cutting class altogether a common memory for you? How about a classic Fantagraphics alternative comic, sure to win even the most jaded of hearts: Daniel Clowes' Ghost World (now in its 20th printing) is for you. Already have it? Try the male version of Ghost World, Celebrated Summer by Charles Forsman, that came out in 2014. Night Fisher by R. Kikuo Johnson also follows the teenage trail of growing up and growing apart.
Cutting class was too weak? You just dropped out all together? Damn, you might enjoy Giraffes in My Hair, a Jack Kerouac-style story lived by Bruce Paley and drawn by his partner,Carol Swain, all about the summer of '67. On the cusp of flunking out with a drug habit, A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross, is an intense and raw look at her own high-school experience. If you're looking for more personal and semi-autobiographical comic stories look no further than The Squirrel Mother by Megan Kelso. It also contains stories about the idea of America and American history, such as a trilogy of short pieces about Alexander Hamilton.
Consider some new books about comics as an assignment for a graded discussion. Black Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg walks through comics, old and new, to enlighten the audience about the hideous caricatures racism produces so that we may never stray there again. Best American Comics Criticism compiled by Ben Schwartz features the best essays on comics from Chris Ware on Rodolphe Töpffer, Dan Clowes on Mad's Will Elder, The Daily Show's John Hodgman on Jack Kirby and more!
The hottest, sweatiest Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Review: Ray Olson continues the reading journey of Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 and reviews it on Booklist Online: "For at times, the yarn becomes seriously exciting, especially during the travel and fight scenes when everybody clams up. . . Because of Daly’s cartooning chops, nonpareil entertainment."
•Plug:Comics Reporter only needs 140 characters sometimes, especially when talking about Joe Daly's work. Tom Spurgeon says on Twitter, "Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 is so good at one point 1000 copies danced around my bed like in an old Warner Brothers cartoon."
•Review: Writer on the go Maria Popova reviews Significant Objects at Brain Pickings. "Part Sentimental Value, part MacGuffinism, Significant Objects reminds us of the storiness of our lived materiality — of the artifacts we imbue with meaning, with loves and losses, with hopes and desperations."
•Interview:Comic Book Resources interviews Gary Groth on The Comics Journal digital archives move to Alexander Street Press. Chris Mautner quotes Groth,"The magazine is a journalistic repository that comprises the history of comics from the year I co-founded it, 1976, to present, though the first 25 pre-Internet years are probably the most valuable; so, depending upon how valuable you think those 274 issues of The Comics Journal are, this will allow academics and students access to every one of those issues. There are literally tens of thousands of pages comprising interviews with hundreds of creators (many of whom have sadly died), reviews and criticism, investigative journalism, and debate about issues"
•Review:Booklist Online looks at Angelman. Ray Olson compares the creator Nicolas Mahler to another creator: "Mahler is, however, minimalist musical lampooner and prankster Erik Satie."
•Review:Fredrik Strömberg's Jewish Images in The Comics is reviewed on The Jewish Daily Forward. "The current comics renaissance has produced a plethora of engaging and positive Jewish images to fill the collection. . . Like most surveys, “Jewish Images” sacrifices depth for breadth, and Strömberg plays a lot of catch-up for readers who may not be familiar with Jewish laws, traditions or history. Still, this is a work of tremendous ambition, spanning countries, languages, and artistic styles," says Mordechai Shinefield.
•Plug: The first of many Love and Rockets appropriations via Covered. François Vigneault remakes Jaime Hernandez's L&R cover #31 after the jump.
•Review: Tucker Stone glibbly describes what makes Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 so damn good on The Comics Journal. "[Jaime] opts to take a step back from the heavy drums of emotional extremes, focusing on some lesser used characters as they wander through some summer business. Gilbert takes a more direct approach to the spectacle, pouring a heavy mix of the snarling violence that’s laced so much of his recent work all over the streets of Palomar, the fictional village that so many of his critics clamor for him to return to. It’s a meaty read. . . It’s the new Love and Rockets. What the fuck else did you have planned?"
•Review: Shimura Takako's Wandering Son Volumes 1 - 3 are reviewed on Pol Culture . Robert Stanley Martin says, "Shimura handles a sensitive early-adolescent subject with considerable grace. She captures the doubts--and the joys--of the two characters as they explore and come to terms with their cross-gender tendencies."
•Review:Booklist Online enjoys the latest and last Popeye Volume 6 "Me Li'l Swee'Pea" by E.C. Segar. Gordon Flagg states,"It’s a testament to the brilliance of Segar’s creation and the solid foundation he laid down in his decade drawing Popeye that the one-eyed sailor endures as a pop-culture icon to this day."
•Review: New Noise Magazine and Marco Lalubin take a peek at Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3 A rough French translation says,"Steve Ditko reaches one of the most memorable creative peaks of his career here, first by turning in more carefully worked-over stories and second by frequently displaying a twisted and cruel sense of humor modeled on what EC Comics had been doing in the first half of the 1950s. Especially dazzling are his attempts at graphic boldness, his compositions reaching the same level (at least for the period collected here) as Jack Kirby (albeit less chaotic) -- particularly amazing in that they paradoxically give the impression of respecting the physical constraints of the classic comic book page"
•Review:A Prince Named Valiant reviews the latest Prison Pit - wait no, not at all. They reviewed Prince Valiant Vol 5 1945-1946 as their name might suggest. Michael J. Bayly says, "With stunning art reproduced directly from pristine printer's proofs, Fantagraphics has introduced a new generation to Foster's masterpiece, while providing long-time fans with the ultimate, definitive version of the strip."
Everybody wants to know: what new books will Fantagraphics be debuting at the San Diego Comic-Con? Well, attendees, get ready to be among the very first to feast your eyes on the following, most of these fresh from the printers! Find 'em all at Booth #1718!
• The Adventures of Venusby Gilbert Hernandez A rare foray into all-ages work, “The Adventures of Venus” was Gilbert Hernandez’s contribution to the kids’ anthology Measles which he edited in 1999 and 2000. This super-affordable little hardcover collects all the previously uncollected “Venus” stories from Measles, plus a new story done just for this book!
• The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!) In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook.
• Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!)Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life.
• Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman (not officially out until September!) It’s neither a biography nor an experiment, but a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, surrealistic satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not.
• Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry's Tigerby Roy Crane (not officially out until September!) In the last adventure in our 2nd volume, Buz is kidnapped and flown to Africa by mysterious assailants. His friend Chili Harrison bets International Airways chief Mr. Wright $200 that even in this desperate situation, Buz will manage to get involved with a pretty girl. Long-time readers of the strip will have no trouble guessing who wins that bet.
• The Cavalier Mr. Thompson: A Sam Hill Novel by Rich Tommaso (not officially out until August!)Welcome To Big Spring, Texas and The Cavalier Hotel. A place brimming with all manner of colorful characters. And then, Ross Thompson – a slick operator from Chicago — came into their humble abode and turned everything upside down. Big Spring was a just string of yarn for Mr. Thompson to pull and pull at, until the entire community came unraveled! Now you’ll have to crack open this here book for yourself to find out just how he done it...
• The Crackle of the Frost by Lorenzo Mattotti & Jorge Zentner (not officially out until September!)In 2011, Fantagraphics presented the extraordinary Stigmata, a stunning display of Mattotti’s whirling, emotional, black and white linework, as well as his painted illustrations for Lou Reed’s The Raven. The Crackle of the Frost ups the visual ante even on those masterpieces, combining the narrative drive of the former with the lush color illustrations of the latter to create a graphic-novel masterpiece with panel after panel of sumptuous full-color paintings.
• Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter (not officially out until August!)Gary Panter began imagining Dal Tokyo, a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers, as far back as 1972, appropriating a friend’s idea about “cultural and temporal collision” (the “Dal” is short for Dallas).
• Is that All There Is? (softcover) by Joost Swarte (not officially out until September!) Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? collects virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s.
• Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik StrömbergJewish Images in the Comics showcases more than 150 comic strips, comic books and graphic novels from all over the world, stretching over the last five centuries and featuring Jewish characters and Jewish themes.
• Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez(not officially out until September!) In Jaime's story “Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners,” Tonta comes to visit for a weekend and sees what kind of life the Frog Princess is living with Reno and Borneo. On the other-brother side, Gilbert celebrates the 30th anniversary by bringing one of his current characters (“Killer,” granddaughter to the legendary Luba) into the Palomar milieu.
• Sexytime: The Post-Porn Rise of the Pornoisseur edited by Jacques Boyreau(not officially out until August!) An oversized coffee table book celebrating the art of the 1970s porn movie poster, Sexytime collects over a hundred of the most outrageously over-the-top porn movie posters of the era. It includes “classics” like The Sex-Ray Machine, Candy Goes to Hollywood, and The Senator’s Daughter starring such ’70s porn stalwarts as Annie Sprinkle, John Holmes, and Seka.
• Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 by Michael KuppermanBreak out your crayons as Red Warren, "America's Grandpa," brings you his highly educational "Train & Bus Coloring Book." The guests at a sophisticated weekend party sure get nervous when a certain mystery writer shows up on her goat. Learn the story of French national hero Bertrand de Copillon, a.k.a. "The Scythe." And originally serialized in the Washington City Paper and online at Fantagraphics.com, the true story of the first lunar mission, "Moon 69." All this and more in the eighth and final issue of the series that changed the face of comic book humor, Tales Designed to Thrizzle!
• Significant Objects edited by Joshua Glenn & Rob WalkerSignificant Objects began in 2009 as a bold online inquiry into the relationship between narrative and the value of everyday objects. It has been the subject of speculation by everyone from NPR to litbloggers to The New York Times’ Freakonomics crew. A collection of one hundred Significant Objects stories is published in this hardcover volume.
• No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comicsedited by Justin Hall Queer cartooning encompasses some of the best and most interesting comics of the last four decades, with creators tackling complex issues of identity and a changing society with intelligence, humor, and imagination. This book celebrates this vibrant artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all.
• Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture - A Career Retrospective by Jack Davis Jack Davis arrived on the illustration scene in the euphoric post-war America of the late 1940s when consumer society was booming and the work force identified with commercial images that reflected this underlying sense of confidence and American bravado. Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture is a gigantic, unparalleled career-spanning retrospective, between whose hard covers resides the greatest collection — in terms of both quantity and quality — of Jack Davis’ work ever assembled!
• Wandering Son Vol. 3 by Shimura Takako; edited and translated by Matt Thorn As shown in the first two volumes of this acclaimed series, Shuichi and his friend Yoshino have a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. After an unhurried, almost leisurely buildup that gave us an opportunity to get to know and understand our protagonists, artist Shimura picks up the pace in this latest volume, with tears and laughs aplenty. A sophisticated work translated with rare sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.
• Castle Waiting Vol. II #17 by Linda MedleyLinda Medley continues to gather loose ends and drop new hints in this new issue of the beloved series. Chess has a surprising revelation about the identity of baby Pinter's father — could it be tied in with the war? The Hammerlings Dayne & Tolly bid farewell to the castle, but not before leaving behind a surprise gift which Rackham discovers later (along with the strange gift Dr. Fell left in an earlier issue). Sister Peace has a tete-a-tete with the demon Leeds regarding religious artifacts — did you know demons collect them? Simon struggles with his reading lessons until Jain helps him have a breakthrough. And Jain faces off with the castle ghost!
• Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons by Flannery O'Connor; edited by Kelly Gerald Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons, the first book devoted to the author’s work in the visual arts, emphasizes O’Connor’s most prolific period as a cartoonist, drawing for her high school and college publications in the early 1940s. Her cartoons are a creative threshing floor for experimenting and trying out techniques that are deployed later with such great success in her fiction.
• God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls byJaime Hernandez Originally serialized in Love and Rockets: New Stories, “Ti-Girls Adventures” managed to be both a rollickingly creative super-hero joyride. Aside from being presented in a large format that really displays Jaime Hernandez’s stunning art, God and Science will be a “director’s cut” version that includes a full 30 new pages in addition to the original 100-page epic, including four new full-color faux Ti-Girls covers, several expansions of scenes, an epilogue set back in Maggie’s apartment, and a long fantasy/timewarp sequence that draws the focus back on Penny’s awful predicament.
The most in vogue Online Commentaries and Diversions:
•Interview (audio): Perk up your ears to the soothing interview of Angelman's creator, Nicolas Mahler, on the Inkstuds podcast. Robin McConnell covers all the bases with Mahler: "[My] main influence is American newspaper comics from the 30s, this was what I discovered when I about was 15-16. It was Krazy Kat and Windsor McCay, those were the things that were important to my drawing style. Wouldn't you have guessed from looking at my drawings?"
•Preview: JK Parkin, Robot6, talks up a preview of The Adventures of Venusby Gilbert Hernandez. This previously uncollected work will also have a new story! Can you spot all the references?
•Review: The sweetest review is up on Sequential Tart of The Adventures of Venus. Sheena McNeil gives the book a thumbs-up for kids: "I love that this graphic novel is full of characters from different cultures with different appearances. Venus and her sister live with their bodybuilder-like mom and no dad, Venus's rival, Gilda Gonzalez, is Hispanic and her crush, Yoshio, is Asian. It's refreshing to see all these different types of people together and getting along normally."
•Plug:Book Patrol teases with a few pictures of Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg. Michael Lieberman says, "Spanning five centuries and featuring over 150 images the book becomes an instant essential reference. . . Who knew Golem was a super-hero?"
•Review:The Comics Bulletin sat down to a round-table review of E.C. Segar's Popeye Vol. 1: "I Yam What I Yam". Columnists Jason Sacks, Daniel Elkin, Danny Djeljosevic and Zack Davisson loved the large format (except for night-time readin' in bed). Sacks says, "There's a depth to these characters, too. They may be incredibly self-involved and aggressive, but there's this odd sort of internal integrity to them that makes them lovable."
•Plug: Glenn Perrett of Simcoe mentions The Sincerest Form of Parody, edited by John Benson, and the juicy ordering details. "You can return to the era when these magazines [Mad, Flip, Nuts, Panic, Madhouse] were popular with The Sincerest Form of Parody which features 'The Best 1950's Mad Inspired Satirical Comcs'."
•History: Reminiscing about comics created and read in the 80's, The Comics Reporter reviews Dalgoda. Created by writer Jan Strnad and art by Dennis Fujitake, Tom Spurgeon states,"It was leisurely paced, and had a genial tone; it was neither pompous nor self-loathing. The art featured that somewhat peculiar, can-still-spot-it-across-the-room Fantagraphics coloring from that era. In fact, Fujitake's art, with its blend of mainstream rendering values, meticulous environmental detail and humorous exaggeration, is what lingers on in memory." You gotta love those striking logo colors.